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willem

School Me: London Tube; Oyster card; Senior Railcard; and more

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Note that I've never done this before, so I have no idea how well they work, but passing it along as an option to start with or start researching with:

 

eBay sells "Three UK" SIM cards for around $40-$45 with 12GB of data, 300 minutes, and 3,000 texts with free shipping to the US. I know Three is one of the major networks in the UK and eBay has decent buyer protection, but I can't guarantee that it'd work as desired. If I were traveling to the UK, though, without an international data plan, that's what I'd investigate. That being said, a lot of international airports have SIM card vending machines as well that, while maybe not giving the most favorable rates, are at least an option if all else fails.

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Thanks, greatwestern. That was just the confirmation I wanted to see.

 

Thanks, jebr. I've never dealt with eBay, and thought it was for used items. To further show my ignorance, I had no idea that a SIM could come with data and time on it. I would guess that just one of those SIMs would take care of me for the whole trip. I will investigate.

 

(Edit to add.) Amazon seems to have several choices, too. Since I have an Amazon account and no eBay account, I will deal with Amazon, unless someone has a compelling reason to change. Thanks again, Jeb, for pointing me in the direction of buying a SIM before leaving.

Edited by willem

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If you want to use a local SIM you can do that too, but changing a SIM in an iPhone is a bit of a chore which I try to avoid if I can, and I also try to avoid dealing with a different phone number etc. But that is just me.

In my experience, the main issue is finding a place to put your teeny-tiny U.S. SIM card where it won't get lost while you're on your trip. :D

 

Last time I went to the U.K. (September 2014), I went to an actual Three store to buy a SIM card for my iPhone. (I'd researched, and they had the best price for data, which was all I expected to use.) Their network was fine throughout London, and everywhere else I went in the country except some rural parts of Scotland.

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Hi, we purchased regular Oyster cards when in London about 18 months ago and found them excellent. We handed them in at our departure at the entrance to the Piccadilly line in Heathrow, can’t remember which terminal. I think all terminals can access the Piccadilly line. We were refunded our unused credit and our £5 deposit. I see on the Visitor Oyster Card website today that the deposit is not refundable, so that may have changed. Visitor Oyster Cards cannot be purchased in London, but the regular ones can. See www.tfl.gov.uk, if you have not already done so. I must say that the staff on all London train stations have the best, most helpful and friendly staff in the world. Do not hesitate to ask them.

 

The Picadelly line is all stops. If you are likely to be tired on arrival, you may want to consider the Express from Heathrow. It is expensive, but I believe you can buy ahead on the internet for a better price. But if you are arriving in the morning and will have to wait until your hotel room is ready you may as well take the Picadelly line for a fraction of the price.

 

I have visited London four times and love it more each time. A few tips: travel light, most stations have lifts, but some do not. We found this when we needed to change to the Circle line at Paddington. That small section did not have a lift. The first time we lugged heavy bags up and down flights of stairs, the second time a helpful staff member pointed out that we could take the next train one stop in the opposite direction, just walk across the platform there and catch the next train back. It worked!

 

As a general rule, I would beware of any “deal” that restricts your travel time, it is a false economy to have to wait until mid morning to start your day. You may only be there once.

 

There is food of all types in London, just look around before choosing. There are many 7 elevens or similar where you can pick up ready made sandwiches etc. There are nice pubs, lots of options. We never had a problem finding good value, reasonable meals. It is worth taking note of good places, say, early in the day, then going back there at night.

 

Be prepared to walk, if possible. Both sides of the Thames River have excellent walking paths along the banks. and you see so much more. Be aware tube stations may have more than just the London Underground lines and other lines may get you somewhere faster.

Ask staff.

 

Re Bath: we have driven there and parked in the visitor parking around the perimeter, at a cost! It is a compact place and from memory the train station is close to everything. I recommend the hop-on, hop-off bus to get around. You will see lots and get off at the places you want to visit. There was a long queue for the Baths, maybe plan to get there early. Well worth seeing.

 

If you are in the Bath area, we loved the nearby little city of Wells, has a beautiful cathedral and water from the Wells runs through the streets.

 

Enjoy!

 

Jean

 

Check out everywhere you are going on the internet beforehand.

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The Picadelly line is all stops. If you are likely to be tired on arrival, you may want to consider the Express from Heathrow. It is expensive, but I believe you can buy ahead on the internet for a better price. But if you are arriving in the morning and will have to wait until your hotel room is ready you may as well take the Picadelly line for a fraction of the price.

 

I

 

Nitpicker here.

 

Strictly speaking that's not true. On the common section with the District Line, it's the District that does all stops and the Piccadilly runs express.

 

It's always fun seeing one underground train overtake another on this lengthy four-track line. It's four-track from Northfields all the way to the point where the District and Piccadilly part ways in central London.

 

If you want to see things, this is also a line worth doing as you're above ground for a serious portion of the journey, even on viaducts and embankments, so you get to see Metroland from the rooftop perspective and pass several sites of interest. Of course the line itself is also of interest, with stations and other lineside structures for the most part being in London Underground art-deco brickwork.

 

The Piccadilly is also onbe of the last lines on the Underground that still uses proper old-school old fashioned trains that still sound and smell like proper Undergrounds. I don't know for how much longer though.

 

But of course if you're in a hurry, there's no beating the Heathrow Express.

Edited by cirdan

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You can check out the credit on your Oyster at Oyster machines located at stations, and load extra credit at any time.

 

Thank you, cirdan, for the primer on using the Oyster card. For at least part of our visit, Vauxhall will be the nearest station. I understand it is in zone 1 or zone 2, whichever is more advantageous to the rider. Can you (or someone else) confirm that?

 

 

 

 

This is correct.

 

I'm afraid I can't answer your question about credit cards. Most people in the UK these days use chip-enabled cards, so I don't know if cards that just have the magnetic strip are universally accepted.

 

As far as I am aware many Oyster machines still accept cash.

 

I will ask my sister, who lives in London.

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An interesting bit of nitpicking there! Thanks for making that clearer.

 

I forgot to mention the very useful www.seat61.com. Good for down to earth info and hints, also good prices for travel in Britain and Europe. I have asked questions there and received prompt answers.

 

I am pretty sure Vauxhall is in Zone 1, if this has not yet been covered.

 

Another thing about travel in Britain, France too - public toilets are pretty scarce. They are commonly to be found in cafes and restaurants, so take advantage of any you find. Sorry to be so basic, but I find it a really irritating feature.

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The Picadelly line is all stops. If you are likely to be tired on arrival, you may want to consider the Express from Heathrow. It is expensive, but I believe you can buy ahead on the internet for a better price. But if you are arriving in the morning and will have to wait until your hotel room is ready you may as well take the Picadelly line for a fraction of the price.

 

I

 

Nitpicker here.

 

Strictly speaking that's not true. On the common section with the District Line, it's the District that does all stops and the Piccadilly runs express.

 

It's always fun seeing one underground train overtake another on this lengthy four-track line. It's four-track from Northfields all the way to the point where the District and Piccadilly part ways in central London.

 

...

 

The Piccadilly is also onbe of the last lines on the Underground that still uses proper old-school old fashioned trains that still sound and smell like proper Undergrounds. I don't know for how much longer though.

 

But of course if you're in a hurry, there's no beating the Heathrow Express.

 

The parallel operation of District and Piccadilly is between just west of Acton Town and Baron's Court, after which Piccadilly dives down underground, but still runs parallel upto South Kensington, Even in this section District has one extra stop.

 

Turnham Green is an odd one. During daytime Piccadilly does not stop there, but at night it does.

 

Long time ago District used to run to Northfields, and even all the way to Hounslow West, but that was discontinued quite a while back.

 

Piccadilly will probably not get new trains for another five years or so.

 

There is a slightly less expensive (than Heathrow Express), but faster than Piccadilly Line alternative in the Heathrow Connect Service, which is a stopping service from Heathrow to Paddington, and with the opening of the Elizabeth Line next year, all the way to Liverpool Street. Eventually there will be a fast service from Heathrow to Cambridge North via St. Pancras LL.But that is still a couple of years away.

Edited by jis

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Thanks to all. To channel Rumsfeld, it's interesting to move items from the "unknown unknowns" to the "known unknowns" category. For example, I didn't know that the Oyster card came in visitor and non-visitor editions.

In my experience, the main issue is finding a place to put your teeny-tiny U.S. SIM card where it won't get lost while you're on your trip.


I have run into the issue of storing a SIM before, so I believe I am prepared to deal with it. On the other hand, sometimes issues find ways around my preparations. If ever there will be a time for a SIM to wander off, it will be in another country.

The [Piccadilly] line is all stops. If you are likely to be tired on arrival, you may want to consider the Express from Heathrow. It is expensive, but I believe you can buy ahead on the internet for a better price. But if you are arriving in the morning and will have to wait until your hotel room is ready you may as well take the Picadelly line for a fraction of the price.

I have visited London four times and love it more each time. A few tips: travel light, most stations have lifts, but some do not. We found this when we needed to change to the Circle line at Paddington. That small section did not have a lift. The first time we lugged heavy bags up and down flights of stairs, the second time a helpful staff member pointed out that we could take the next train one stop in the opposite direction, just walk across the platform there and catch the next train back. It worked!

[...]

Be prepared to walk, if possible. Both sides of the Thames River have excellent walking paths along the banks. and you see so much more. Be aware tube stations may have more than just the London Underground lines and other lines may get you somewhere faster.
Ask staff.

Re Bath: we have driven there and parked in the visitor parking around the perimeter, at a cost! It is a compact place and from memory the train station is close to everything. I recommend the hop-on, hop-off bus to get around. You will see lots and get off at the places you want to visit. There was a long queue for the Baths, maybe plan to get there early. Well worth seeing.


My only concern about the Piccadilly Line is having the bags take up space on the car. Carrying the bags should not be a problem, and I'm hoping that by time we clear customs and orient ourselves after our 0800 arrival, rush hour will be over.

I didn't follow the description of taking a train one stop and then catching the next train back. Did the next train back take you to a different station? Is there a lift on one side and not the other?

We used to be walkers, and I'd like to think we still are. We do expect to walk unless it would take too much time.

In the evolution of the plans, the current thought is to take the train to Bath.

I forgot to mention the very useful www.seat61.com. Good for down to earth info and hints, also good prices for travel in Britain and Europe. I have asked questions there and received prompt answers.

I am pretty sure Vauxhall is in Zone 1, if this has not yet been covered.

Another thing about travel in Britain, France too - public toilets are pretty scarce. They are commonly to be found in cafes and restaurants, so take advantage of any you find. Sorry to be so basic, but I find it a really irritating feature.


I have read pages at Seat61, but never interacted further. Thanks for the info.

There is no need to apologize for providing basic information—especially about toilets. In foreign countries, I carry my own toilet paper and suggest others do the same. Happily for me, I had already begun this policy before I entered the public restroom in Rome where one is expected to tip the attendant in advance. I don't know if I didn't tip enough or if the locals had different digestive tracts, but the three squares of toilet paper that the attendant gave me would not have been enough.

 

Thanks again for all the guidance.

 

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If I recall correctly, there is a charge for the Oyster card itself. DoB, could you or anyone else tell me if I can avoid that charge by using Apple Wallet and presumably not getting the physical Oyster card? Would this enable me to buy the virtual Oyster card before arriving in England?

 

I'm confused by the discussion of Visa and Mastercard. Is that for reloading the Oyster card? If so, is it automatic or manual? Is it necessary? I mean, could I use a Visa at a reloading station without using Wallet? (I have never used Wallet, so if I asked a silly question, that could be why.)

 

The charge for an Oyster card is only for the Oyster card. If you don't use an Oyster card - e.g., you use your phone instead - you avoid the charge entirely.

 

I have multiple credit cards loaded into my Android Pay wallet. When I tried to use a Visa at the fare gate, I got an error message. When I switched to a MasterCard, it worked fine.

 

This is unrelated to the question of which card you should use to fund an Oyster card (if you opt to use an Oyster card). At a staffed ticket window, any card should work. At a machine, you may or may not be able to use a card that doesn't have Chip-and-PIN, but MasterCard vs. Visa shouldn't make a difference. If one machine doesn't work, try a different one - although it's been many years since I've used an Oyster card, I vaguely recall that the larger vending machines rejected my U.S. credit card while the smaller ones accepted it. (Or maybe I got that backwards?)

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It seems that this thread is getting over complicated, at least to my poor brain... Getting difficult to pick out the pearls (of wisdom) among the Oysters. :D

 

The Piccadilly line tube train cars have an area just to one side of the doors where suitcases can be placed. As the airport is at the start of the journey, you should not have problems with your cases. I try and grab the 1st seat next to that floor space to keep a hand on my items.

 

Ed.

Edited by caravanman

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I asked my sister, who lives in London, and she confirms that cash top ups for Oyster are still possible, and that it is also possible to pay with AMEX, including the US type cards

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I asked my sister, who lives in London, and she confirms that cash top ups for Oyster are still possible, and that it is also possible to pay with AMEX, including the US type cards

It better be, ‘cause I did so a couple of times just two weeks back! ;)

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

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Nice map. Thanks, Ed. I probably would not have found that map on my own.

 

I am perplexed by the representation of what (I assume) are the London Overground and DLR lines. The Key to lines legend indicates that a solid colored line on the map is used to represent each tube line (or route, to avoid using the term "line" for two purposes). At least two of the tube lines (or routes) are represented by double lines on the map, even though the legend has no double lines. Is the mayor of London trying to present some additional information that I am not understanding? (That's a rhetorical question, unless someone knows the answer.)

 

Thanks again.

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I guess I don;t quite understand your question. Could you provide an example of the "double line" segment that you refer to? Thanks.

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The "double" lines on the "walking tube map" which I think you are querying, are in fact the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) [blue] and the London Overground routes [brown]. If you use the "standard" tube map (from the Maps tab on the site www.tfl.gov.uk) you will see the legend defines those routes with double lines. On the standard map you will also see the London Trams and TFL routes defined by double lines.

Edited by greatwestern

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The lines "key" shown on the walking map is incorrect... I did not notice that myself. The DLR and Overground are shown on the map differently to the "solid" tube lines.

Handy map for walking between stations, but not so great for finding the correct line to ride. :D

Edited by caravanman

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I guess I don;t quite understand your question. Could you provide an example of the "double line" segment that you refer to? Thanks.

 

At Stratford, there are double lines (off-green) going in three directions, and a single line (gray) heading southwest (on the schematic). The legend shows no double lines.

 

Did that help?

post-8784-0-72642400-1513215332_thumb.png

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At Stratford, there are double lines (off-green) going in three directions, and a single line (gray) heading southwest (on the schematic). The legend shows no double lines.

 

Did that help?

It's as caravanman said: the legend is incorrect, and the Docklands Light Railway (greenish-blue) and the Overground (orange) are shown on the map using double lines.

 

Another issue I see on that excerpt from the map is that the Central Line's red line kind of goes between two of the circles representing Stratford station. But it does stop there!

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Yeah, in general only London Underground Lines are shown with solid lines.

 

London Overground (Orange) and DLR (Teal) are shown by those double lines.

 

Stratford is actually fine. It shown the double dark line transfer between three separate stations called Startford, two (London Overground and Central) of which have stepless access to platform but not to the train, while the third (DLR and Jubilee) one has stepless access to trains. I actually know this to be true since I was there just the other day :)

 

Incidentally Stratford also is a stop on the International HSR (both Eurostar and Southest HSR Commuter Service)

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Elsewhere on the map it's worth mentioning that the double-lined lime-green is the Trams; Double-Blue is TfL Rail (will be Crossrail/Elizabeth Line); and the Tripple-Red is the cable car.

 

peter

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At Stratford, there are double lines (off-green) going in three directions, and a single line (gray) heading southwest (on the schematic). The legend shows no double lines.

 

Did that help?

It's as caravanman said: the legend is incorrect, and the Docklands Light Railway (greenish-blue) and the Overground (orange) are shown on the map using double lines.

 

Another issue I see on that excerpt from the map is that the Central Line's red line kind of goes between two of the circles representing Stratford station. But it does stop there!

 

 

Yes, Central Line stops in Stratford.

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Incidentally Stratford also is a stop on the International HSR (both Eurostar and Southest HSR Commuter Service)

 

As far as I am aware, it was intended when the route was designed that Eurostar stops in Stratford, but this doesn't actually happen (although I understand that during the Olympics some specials did stop there)

 

BTW, it was never the intention that Eurostars to / from St Pancras would stop in Stratford. Having two London stops so close together would have made little sense. The purpose of the international platforms at Stratford was that Eurostar trains heading for destinations north of London could use the station to serve London while by-passing the main stations and their approaches. This North of London Eurostar never materialized, largely because of the customs regime that wouldn't allow domestic passengers to use the trains, thus scuppering the business case..

Edited by cirdan

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Right. Eurostars stop at Ebbsfleet a little further out across the river instead of Stratford these days. Only some, not all stop at Ebbsfleet, as they also do at Ashford International.

 

One interesting tidbit - for now only the Alstom consists can access Ashford International. The Siemens consists are not equipped with compatible signal/train control system.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

Edited by jis

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